#68 Needles


These days I can go for weeks without thinking of myself as an ex addict but, if there’s one thing that reminds me of that former life – it’s having a blood test. I had to have a routine one a few weeks back and as I sat in the waiting room, feeling cold and clammy, I got the urge to walk back out. I didn’t. I knew that the blood test was in my benefit – that the NHS needed my blood to tell me if everything was okay. So I offered up my arm as if on the altar for sacrifice (okay then, the NHS white formica table…) and thought of England. Well, sort of. I had tears in my eyes and nearly fainted. See, you’d be forgiven into thinking that us ex users, ex injectors would happily have needles stuck into their bodies. Well why not? We’ve done it all before – we’re used to it aren’t we.

Well, the answer is – I think for a lot of ex-injectors out there. We’ve grown to HATE needles. I used to love them. I know of some people injecting water into their veins after getting clean becuase they were addicted to ‘the pin’ just as much.

There’s also something mortifying and degrading when you rock up to the nurse’s room, with your thin black scars and your abcess marks. She gives you a knowing look – one of distaste and then seems to stab you with the needle even harder. Not taking the same care and attention she would to any regular Dr’s frequenter.

I used to have to have blood tests every 3-6 months when I was on subutex to check the function of the liver. Or, I was supposed to have them but after one particularly bad time with a nurse trying to find a vein and stabbing both arms for what felt like half an hour – I refused to go back. I’d walked into the room and told her I was an ex user and she might struggle to find a vein – she checked my left arm, which I knew was a no goer so told her.’ Humph’.. she grunted after 12 attempts and begun to put the NHS tourniquet onto the other arm. By that point I was terrified and when you’re scared, your blood flows deeper to your organs and away from your skin which means your veins play hard to get even more. (See – who needs Science lessons when you’ve got heroin lessons kids!) The nurse however, seemed to take it as a personal challenge. Stabbing me and bruising me – to no avail. She told me to go and wait in the waiting room, calm myself down and go and get a drink of water before returning. I went in the waiting room, cold and shaking – tears burning my eyes. Yep – you guessed it. I walked out and didn’t go back. I didn’t care if my liver was shrivelling up and getting fatty. You can get new ones these days anyway.

Right?……………..

#67 In your dreams…


I’ve not touched gear since just the once in 2007 and even that was a one off  (or maybe a two off… Or was it a three-off?) after being clean for over a year before then. So it’ll be almost 5 years to the month since I’ve been clean.

Then last night I  went to an old friend’s house . Can’t quite remember who it was as the face wasn’t too clear- but they seemed familiar. He knew that he’d not seen me for ages so I told him I was clean now but I wanted to buy a bag of gear from him and asked if I could sort myself out at his house to which he agreed. I asked if he had any foil but he said no and waved to his digging gear. The next thing you know foil is produced from somewhere, he’s got a belt around his arm in the corner of the room with the curtains closed and I’m making the tooter and the platter as if it was only yesterday that I last did it. I was burning the gear on the foil and tooting- feeling that warm heroin glow. Then suddenly being concious of the brown tar sticking to my front teeth and trying to scrape it off before I went home – so that no-one could tell straight away what I’d been up to. Then I was panicking, thinking ‘who am I trying to kid?! – my eyes are pinned, I’m only half conscious and everyone will know when I don’t want any dinner… !’

And then -I woke up.

A dream in the life of an ex-heroin addict. Tonight I’m hoping for plain old sheep. A hundred of them.

#66 Happiness can’t be found in an i-phone


Whilst I continue to stand on this soap box… I will end with a few final thoughts.

I know it’s a bit boring for you and you want to hear the old stories of drug taking and debauchery but you’ll have to just bear with me. There’s a song which goes something like this: “This is my blog and I’ll write what I want to, write what I want to.. write what I want to… ” Or something similar.

The final thoughts are this:

Why do we continue with our obsession with making ourselves happy by buying and ingesting external stuff, to do so?

I’m repeating some words of a very wise man I met who helped me look at things differently.

How many times do we go to the fridge and open it, just standing there staring. Expecting to see a big bar of chocolate or cheese saying ‘happiness’ on it? Raiding the fridge when we’re not even hungry, just because we’re bored, tired or stressed? Why did I have someone inject heroin into my arms and hands? Why do we feel the need to go out and drink alcohol? Why smoke a cigarette after a stressful day? Why must we go out and buy this seasons latest pairs of shoes- to put them with the previous 30 seasons pairs of shoes in the wardrobe? Why do we feel better walking around browsing in shops, spending money on credit cards?

It’s because we get temporary happiness from it. It’s great to buy a new pair of Addidas trainers or a handbag. That handbag that sits on my desk on the night I’ve bought it provides me with a little warm feeling of being happy and cool. Then I’ll use it the next day and the happiness has worn off. End of happiness – must buy the next big thing… Perhaps shoes, perhaps a coat, perhaps a bigger TV.

We all do it but I’ve come to realise this:-

Happiness comes from within.

Without meaning to sound like the Dalai Lama here – but it does. And until you figure that, you’re always going to feel like a loser who just has to have the latest i-phone 4 because if you don’t get it – you’re missing out on a big chunk of happiness with which you can purchase and make yourself feel better about yourself. The inner self is saying “Look at me! With my wicked new phone – look how cool I am and how happy this makes me feel”.

Right until the i-phone 5 comes out.

Game over.

#65_The World. Through our great-grandchildren’s eyes?


So, the thing is – drugs in the UK are having a major change at the moment. Remember the hazy days of ecstasy hitting the UK back in the rave days of 89 or thereabouts? Well, I feel that we are on the edge of something similar happening nowadays but with all the new synthetic type drugs and legal highs.

I had the chance, in the capacity of my new job to have some ‘drugs training’, someone very informed on the subject, who actually has advised government on drug policies and it gave me something to think about. I laughed at the thought of me getting drugs training. I secretly thought that I’d be able to tell him a thing or too. As I sat in the training, I didn’t have a clue about the drugs he was talking about. I’d never even heard of most of them.

Heroin, crack and the old drugs that I know so well are all going out of fashion. They’re far too expensive, damaging and have a lot of stigma attached to them. New drugs like Pink Champagne, mepherdrone, M-Cat, Miaow, legal cannabis, etc are flying off the shelves.

Why?

1. Because the government is so behind with the times that they can’t keep up with this growing emergence of uni kids in white coats creating new synthetic drugs. The drugs of choice now are still mainly legal.

2. They’re cheap. For £8 on a ‘drugs for research’ website you can buy a gram of this stuff . It even warns you that only 0.0005th of a gram should be used in one serving. Currently a few people in Scotland have died from shoving the whole liquid gram in a pint and as it;s a sedative- they then stop breathing. How odd is it for a drug selling website to actually inform you that you only need such a small quantity AND it goes on to say that if you don’t have scales to measure to that exact quantity, then you’re not prepared to ‘undertake your research’ (wink wink, nudge nudge).

3. We don’t know the side effects. At the minute – there are none. It’s not been round long enough to know any potential damage. Well, apart from those that have died of course. (Is it always the Scottish first? Aye, cos they’re hard as nails and are always first to take things to the extreme).

4. Kids can have a cheap night out. Spend £4 to 8 on a gram, a quid on a can of coke to put some in – a quick drink, and they’re off their heads for the night.

So the question I ask you is: Why would you want a heroin addiction (which is seen as disgusting and dirty, the lowest of the drug lows) when you can get fucked on cheaper drugs that are still legal and cheaper than a bottle of wine or vodka?

Maybe in 100 years time, our grandkids won’t understand their grandparents obsession with alcohol, nicotine and heroin. They won’t understand that we damaged our veins and health by injecting drugs we’d burnt on a spoon. They won’t understand that we bought bottles of wine and spirits, continuing to drink it even when we knew the health problems it caused. Then we ended up in hospital with enlarged livers, bunged up arteries, throat , lung or bowel cancer and mental health problems – but that we STILL continued to drink and smoke because we couldn’t go out and talk to friends without using something. We could never go to a pub with our friends and not get pissed. That would just be weird. It was normal to go out, drink until you could drink no more, slurringly get a kebab, have a fight, have a shag and wake up the next morning wondering what had happened.

Our grandkids will be switched on to the dangers of drugs and alcohol. They’ll be smart.

Why buy booze and heroin when you can spend £4 on some legal seeds that are likened to LSD?

Weird or what?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (seen as I’m back on this here soap box)- we live in a strange World, and I’m sure it will be just as strange in a 100 years time.

 

#64 The end?


I don’t think I spoke to B for about a month after the last episode. I was clean – he wasn’t.

I moved into a swanky little flat with a mezzanine floor converted from an old mill. It looked beautiful but was so expensive that I never paid the council tax (that bit me on the arse a few years later – government agecnies are not as inefficient as you might think).

B and I split up, then we got back together and he came to live with me.

I think it lasted a few months but was always slightly chaotic. We did the normal stuff like making meals and cooking over a glass of wine, then we’d take it to the extreme and have 3 bottles of wine and smoke weed. We were almost there in living this ‘normal lifestyle’ to outsiders but we were nowhere near.

The final straw was when I’d cooked a romantic pasta dish but had run out of milk whilst making the white sauce. B was adamant that he needed some for the morning’s cuppa char before work so he said he’d go to the shop across the road. The pasta dish was sat under the grill, cheese browning. The clock was ticking. I knew before he even left the house that he wasn’t going to come back. It’s that psychic connection that you share sometimes with your partners. Maybe it was due to body language or tone of voice or perhaps just because I knew him well. The clock continued to tick.

I sat eating my pasta and drinking the wine on my own, absolutely livid and disappointed that he’d spoilt this romantic evening I’d had planned.

He returned two days later, no phone calls (I’d tried numerous times), no nothing.

He was swiftly ejected.

…..We eventually became friends again. I was lonely and skint, he was lonely and flush, so he used to come down to the house and we would occasionally score. Old habits die hard.

I came completely off subutex right before Christmas 2006 and felt like I was laughing for the first time in years. All the emotions that have been covered with this invisible emotional veil just come right to the surface. My face was constantly flushed and red and, if I wasn’t laughing at something, there’d be tears and I’d be crying. It was good to ‘feel’ again. Luckily those highs and lows have levelled out and I can now pass of as a perfectly normal human-being (if not a little crazy).

And old friends?

Well, B and I lost touch some years ago. I often miss him – he was a larger than life character. Is a larger than life character …wherever he may be.

I know that he got off drugs and moved to another part of the Country where he met a good woman, an older woman from what I gather, one who could reign him in and keep him on the right path. He went travelling around the World before returning to set up his own successful business. I have no doubt that he is now happy and at peace with life. He was my first love and they do say there’s nothing quite like a first love plus we had the added adventure of being addicts; soul-mates. In it ’till the end. That’s a powerful emotion.  I sometimes wonder if he ever thinks of me.

Many have got off drugs, and many haven’t. Some are in prison for drug and repeat petty crime offences. Some are like me and have managed to turn their lives around. Some committed suicide when it all became too much.

Now, I have retrained. I’m at Uni and have just got a job in the career that I want. I’m with a solid, loving man who doesn’t like me talking about this blog; prefers not to know about the gory details. Who can blame him? My son is growing before my very eyes, unaware that I was anything other than his Mummy. I have lots of positive friendships that don’t revolve around drugs. It took a while to get my head around that and I do tend to get bored quickly but instead of immersing myself in a destructive behaviour, I find a new hobby or a new place to visit. Don’t get me wrong – when the going get’s tough, my mind has turned to scoring. Sometimes I’d love to just have that one bag of gear again… to smell her evil smell and to let her take over my body. But I don’t.  And I won’t.

I haven’t touched gear for 6 years and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

Good night and god bless.

Thanks for listening.

 

#63 Rehab’s for quitters.


The story from here doesn’t belong to me. It is B’s story and I was just the sideshow so I can feel the blog coming towards a natural end…

Here is an email from my draft items in my inbox which I sent a version of to my best friend. This was sent nearly 6 years ago:

“Sorry I’ve not been in touch, its been hard because as soon as I get home from work, I go straight round to B’s mums and spend some time with him, so that I never seem to have the time. Well, I didn’t have the time but now I do. B is going away for a few months, to  a place in Sheffield where he will be a resident on campus at a rehabilitation place. I know he won’t mind me telling you as he knows that we talk a lot about everything!!! Crazy isn’t it?? Hopefully though, it will be the one big, last chance of him sorting his life out before it gets worse than it is. Oh dear. I know he needs to do it though and I’ll just be getting on with my life whilst he is in there.”
B did go to rehab. I wasn’t allowed to phone him, send letters or have any contact for at least the first 6 weeks. With me being an addict (or a recently become ex-one) I was seen as a risk. He lasted a week. I was missing him terribly and had gone round to B’s mums house to see how she was bearing up. We both had a few glasses of wine and sat having a bit of a cry from time to time and voicing how we really thought that he’d change his life with this programme. Then the phone rang. I could sense from B’s mums’ tone of voice that she was arguing with him. The tone of voice then evened out and sounded placid, happy even. He asked to speak to me when he knew I was there too and said he was coming home now and his mum and dad were coming to pick him up and would I go with them. “What?! It’s only been a week”. He sounded so sure that he was ready to leave. He gave a new meaning to the term ‘full of beans’ (no – not shit, beans!). I tried reasoning with him, as I think his mum had done but no – he was adamant that he didn’t need to be there anymore. He’d seriously reflected in this past week and had come completely off subutex and was ready to face the world a better and enlightened person. He said he was setting off walking and he would meet us along the way. He couldn’t bear to be in the house another second as they were all bringing him down as they were much worse than him. I put the phone down, wiping a tear of disappointment away, just in time to turn around and see his Mum do the same. About an hour later we picked him up walking along the side of the road. His eyes were bright and pupils were big, he was starving and made us stop at Macdonalds so he could eat 3 burgers. I was in wonder and amazement at this seemingly transformed B. He was apologising about how he’d been and what he’d done. He had big ideas to turn his life around and knew it was by making small steps at a time. I was feeling a little bit scared, like I was going to be left behind. He was definitely going to take over the World with his enthusiasm and passion for life. Where was I going to fit in these plans I was thinking.
That night he slept on the sofa in his Mum’s living room as he didn’t want to go back into the bedroom where he’d sat and smoked crack and injected gear so many times until he’d had the chance to redecorate and change it completely.
He didn’t want another run of the mill job – he knew he was a skilled worker and was conjuring up ideas for setting up his own little business. He was the master of his universe and I was gob-smacked at this complete transformation.
Then I came home from work one day, about 2 weeks after his return to go and see him and spend the Friday night with him. Unusually, he was sat in his bedroom-not yet decorated- smoking on a can pipe. I could just make out  the familiar white stones in the plastic bag on the table, before I walked out into the night and back to my Mum’s.

#62_09/11


On September 11th 2001 I was with D (for Devious, Dickhead, Dirty) at his parent’s house. They’d gone to work and it was just me and D in the house. D, being on the dole and me, the only one working but working a later shift that day.

We’d scored, the dealer had turned up and D had sorted himself out a dig first off. When it was my turn he was stabbing me in my cold arms with a needle, trying (or not) to find a vein that wasn’t too narrow or too deep down. “OW – for fucks sake!” as he hit a nerve in my arm. (Hitting a nerve was just the occupational hazard for injecting drug users). It was no good, I ran a bath to get into, in the hope that the hot water would bring my veins easily to the surface. I’d been in there a few minutes, still shivering, despite the warmth when I heard D shout me in disbelief. I got out of the bath, put a bathrobe on and went to his bedroom, where the little portable T.V was showing a burning building. “A planes gone into the World trade centre!”

In my youth and ignorance, I didn’t even know what the World Trade Centre was. I could just see it was very tall, big and on fire. I was feeling shit from not yet having my dig – I was just voicing my feelings about needing the gear when the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. A lot of people, like me, remember that 2nd plane hitting the tower. I still get a shiver thinking about it now. We watched for a few more minutes and saw what looked like someone jumping out of the building and falling from the sky. I was crying my eyes out. My emotional capacity not numbed yet by the morning’s dose. D’s was completely numb to it as he made some jeering little whoop of excitment about some poor bastard throwing themselves out of the building. I hated him at that moment. He was always a twisted fucker (I’d grown to realise) but this was the lowest of the low. It was further compounded by the fact that he’d covered his emotions with the warm blanket of gear, whereas I hadn’t yet so the feelings were as if I was a normal functioning person. They were raw. This moment of history was horrific.

A few minutes later, D found a vein in my arm –

And my tears dried up.

So …when people ask me where I was when 9/11 happened, it’s just easier to tell them that I was asleep.